Africa’s over 400 airports are grossly underutilised according to the Director of Government, Legal and Industry Affairs, African Airlines Association- Mr Aaron Munetsi.
He asserted that the continent is in urgent need of improved air connectivity, noting that the total utilisation of the airports is only about 19 per cent.
He said, “The airports that we have are underutilised. Statistics that were shared recently by IATA show that all the airports in Africa are only utilised up to only 19 per cent which means 80 per cent are redundant.
“Even in the busiest airport 80 per cent are redundant so the idea is to make sure the ones that we have, are utilized to the max. When we have met and exceeded the required capacity we can think of building new airports.”
He made the statement at the recently concluded 15th AKWAABA African Travel and Tourism Market in Lagos.
According to him, policies, processes and procedures guided by discipline will drive the industry’s growth.
Muntesi, who spoke with other aviation experts, stated that the problem of multiple taxations across countries on the continent had continued to hinder the growth of the industry.
Munetsi said African governments should explore other aspects of the economy in order to get revenue and stop imposing unnecessary charges on airlines.
He said, “The rate at which airlines are taxed is alarming. Sometimes airlines are charged just for writing their names on the boarding pass.
“Charging Africans to pay for visas is an act of poverty. African governments must look for other means of making money but not through multiple taxations.”
He said the Single Africa Air Transport Market was adopted by the African Union to achieve the objective of liberalising air transportation among Africans and increasing connectivity.
According to him, African airlines should be allowed to operate anywhere within the continent as this will create a healthy bond and unity among Africans.
Munetsi said, “The weather of the various African countries is an advantage for Africans to properly groom the aviation industry to the western world admiration. The African free trade zone can only be successful if the African airports and airlines are positioned to be efficient in terms of service delivery.
“The role of governments is to create an enabling environment through access to capital for airlines and the development of airport infrastructure. An aviation sector that is privately-driven and modelled after the best practices are key to growing the African economy.”
Aviation expert, Mr Chris Aligbe, stated that the Federal Government should implement the concession of airports to develop the industry.
According to him, airports in the country will perform better under concessionaires as the Federal Government lacks the ability to finance modern airport infrastructure.